April 10, 2012

A Twitter Poem

The NPR program Tell Me More is celebrating National Poetry Month with a segment called “Muses and Metaphor 2012.” Listeners are being invited to send in poems of “140 characters or fewer,” that is, poems that could be sent via Twitter.

Today, I decided to take up the challenge. I got an idea for a poem and began playing with the idea. I was composing my poem using Microsoft Word, which counts the numbers of characters in a document. I was quite pleased with my poem, which Word indicated was only 132 characters long. When I went to Twitter to tweet the poem, however, I discovered that it was too long. Checking back to Word, I discovered that the 132 number excluded spaces. Counting the spaces increased the number of characters to 160. This was my first disappointment.

Returning to the drawing board, I decided to compose directly in Twitter. I gradually whittled my poem down to 138 characters. It was not quite as good as the original, I thought, but, since the point of the poem was that it could be tweeted, I did feel a certain sense of triumph.

It was only at this point that I checked out how to submit my composition to Tell Me More. I then ran into my second disappointment. I was supposed to tweet my poem along with the hashtag  #TMMPoetry. But this limited the length of my poem to 129 characters! “Unfair!” I shouted.

At this point, I decided to post my poem on my blog and tweet a link to it to Tell Me More. If the NPR folks don’t like this, so be it. It’s not as if there’s a prize at stake. At best, I can get my poem and name on the radio. I’m not likely to be offered a book contract by anyone.

All that said, here is my poem (of 138 characters):

A Twitter Poem

Can I write a poem in a tweet,
Employing severest brevity?
It’s hard to convey an idea that’s complete,
Much less one deserving longevity.
For what it’s worth, here is the 160-character poem I pared down to my final submission:

A Twitter Poem

How can I write a poem in a tweet,
Expressing my thoughts with such brevity?
I can hardly convey an idea that’s complete,
Much less one that warrants longevity.

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